Document Directory

24 May 01 - CJD - Slaughter method raises BSE fear
24 May 01 - CJD - US Mad Cow fears prompt blood curbs
24 May 01 - CJD - Education Is Key to FDM and BSE Prevention
24 May 01 - CJD - Cattle cull sparks Mad Cow disease fears
24 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross in need of blood donors
24 May 01 - CJD - Suit filed over dodgy dura mater imports
24 May 01 - CJD - Update on the situation on the EU-beef market
24 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross bans travelers' blood
23 May 01 - CJD - Captive-bolt gun may spread vCJD
23 May 01 - CJD - EC plans new Mad Cow measures
23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Deer Disease?
23 May 01 - CJD - New test for deer disease
23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross Tightens Restrictions on Blood Donors
23 May 01 - CJD - British blood donors rejected over Mad Cow disease
23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross takes step against Mad Cow
23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Means Tighter Blood Donor Rules
23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow spooks Red Cross
23 May 01 - CJD - Aiming at Mad Cow, Red Cross bars some blood donors
23 May 01 - CJD - Blood stocks hit by exotic holidays
23 May 01 - CJD - US fears Mad Cow spread
23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Prompt More Red Cross Restrictions
23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross to reject donors who have been in Europe



24 May 01 - CJD - Slaughter method raises BSE fear

James Meikle, health correspondent

Guardian--Thursday 24 May 2001


The food standards agency is investigating the way millions of cattle and sheep are slaughtered amid suspicions that it increases the risk of humans catching BSE.

It has commissioned research into the possible danger that infective parts of the brain and central nervous system are dispersed via the bloodstream into tissues used in food. This may take three years.

Studies by vets at Bristol University and elsewhere have demonstrated that conventional methods of killing, using bolts fired into the skulls of animals, scatter nervous tissue into the blood. In cattle, these have been found in lungs, and in sheep in jugular veins.

The next stage of research will help tell whether existing controls on removing potentially infective brain and offal from cattle go far enough.

Sheep have been infected experimentally in laboratories and the evidence points to the disease being able to affect far more organs and tissues than in cattle, forcing the government to draw up contingency plans, including mass culls, in case BSE is found in flocks.

Separate research by the government's veterinary agency has also suggested that sheep spleens can show signs of BSE infectivity in animals 10 months old, well before outward clinical signs are evident. In addition, the disease under the microscope looks indistinguishable from scrapie, a condition that seems to have no health impact for humans.

Most cattle are killed by bolts, but there are other options. Although most sheep are slaughtered after being stunned electrically, as many as one in six still may be killed by bolts.

Dr Haluk Anil, from Bristol, said: "The work does not go far enough. We need to see whether this material might end up in the edible parts." His team's latest work on sheep suggests that infected material could pass through the lungs and heart into the vessels supplying blood to the edible parts of carcasses.

A spokesman for the food standards agency said the research would take two to three years to complete.

The practice of pithing - thrusting a rod through the hole in the cattle's skull made by the stunning bolt - has already been banned by the EC because of fears it might help spread contaminated material. It was widely used in the UK to stop animals kicking out and endangering abattoir workers.


24 May 01 - CJD - US Mad Cow fears prompt blood curbs

Lorna Martin

The Herald--Thursday 24 May 2001


THE American Red Cross is tightening its restrictions on blood donations from people who have spent time in Europe as a precaution against the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The organisation, which collects around half of the US blood supply, said it will stop taking blood donations from people who have spent as little as three months in Britain, or six months or more anywhere in Europe, from 1980 to the present.

From September, the charity will also reject any potential donor who has received a blood transfusion in Britain.

The new rules are much stricter than those issued by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which prohibits blood banks from collecting donations from anyone who has spent six months or more in Britain between 1980 and 1996.

The FDA is now considering whether to add other European countries to the list. An advisory committee is scheduled to discuss the issue next month.

In January, the panel recommended expanding the ban to include people who had spent 10 years or more since 1980 in France, Ireland, or Portugal.

Experts have expressed concern that the dual policies followed by the Red Cross and the FDA will further confuse the public about the disease.

But Blythe Kuvina, spokes- woman for the American Red Cross, said caution was needed, given that there was no blood test for the human form of the disease, which has a long latency period.

Experts believe the human form of Mad Cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is transmitted to people who eat tainted meat, but they do not know if infected humans can pass the disease to others through blood transfusions. There is no proof that the disease, or its human counterpart, spreads through blood.

The brain-wasting illness has killed more than 90 people in Europe, most of them in Britain.

"In light of tremendous scientific uncertainly, we have to make the best judgment possible," said Ms Kuvina.

She said the new rule would make 8%, or 400,000, of its current donors ineligible.

At the beginning of the year, an expert panel comprising some of the nation's top Mad Cow experts, concluded that Portugal, France, and Ireland were countries of most concern.

However, they said the risk there was lower than in Britain.

In February, the FDA said it would closely adhere to the recommendations of its advisers, who argued that the Red Cross call for tighter restrictions went further than necessary.

Dr Jay Epstein, the FDA's blood chief, said then that the agency was likely to impose the ban on travellers to Portugal and France only.

Under the Red Cross policy, donations will be banned from:

* Anyone who has lived in the UK for a total of three months or longer since 1980;

* Anyone who has lived anywhere in Europe for a total of six months since 1980;

* Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the UK.

The Red Cross is legally permitted to set stricter standards than required by the FDA but its blood banks are not allowed to say or imply that their blood is safer than those collected by banks following FDA standards.

Defending the Red Cross calls for tighter restrictions earlier this year, Dr Bernadine Healy, the group's president, said the FDA standards were "minimal".

If the nation would not import any European cattle, she said, Red Cross blood banks should adopt a similar standard.

The new policies are scheduled to come into force in September to allow time for changes to donor questionnaires and employee training.

Ms Healy said she was "cautiously optimistic" that campaigns would make up for any shortfall from the new guidelines.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow disease, spread through British herds in the 1980s and recently a ppeared in other European countries.


24 May 01 - CJD - Education Is Key to FDM and BSE Prevention

By Janis Thornton

NewsStand---Thursday 24 May 2001


More than just livestock would suffer if foot-and-mouth or Mad Cow disease should hit Clinton County.

"Corn prices would fall to rock bottom," said Jimmy Bricker, Clinton County Purdue Cooperative Extension Service educator. "That's half your market and it would just disappear."

But Bricker doesn't see that happening and credits awareness of the diseases as their primary combatant.

Earlier this month, Dr. Leon Thacker of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab of Purdue University spoke at the Clinton County extension office about the diseases. The Farmers Bank, Clinton County Farm Bureau and Pork Producers, Union Planters Bank, and Larry Rule of Farm Bureau Insurance cosponsored the program.

"I think we are one of the first counties to have a public speaker on the problem," Bricker said. "It's usually updated at Farm Bureau or pork producers' meetings. It's sort of a buzz, and as long as we keep it a topic of conversation, we're doing a good job."

Because Mad Cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE) is caused by a protein in animal feed that has long been outlawed in the United States, the threat of it showing up here is not likely, Thacker said.

Precautions are still high against foot-and-mouth disease (FDM), he said, which is caused by a highly contagious, quick-spreading virus affecting cloven-hoofed animals. It does not affect humans.

"Because it travels so fast," Bricker said, "by the time a farmer would notice something unusual, call the vet - who would take another day to get there - how many people, birds, animals have walked onto and off the farm? It's a virus and it's traveling with all these potential carriers."

Although it is not usually fatal to the animal, it leaves the animal virtually without value to the breeder, Bricker said.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health recommends breeders control who visits their farms, monitor the livestock feed and check regularly for symptoms.

"The virus can hang around (human) nasal hair, on clothes, on shoes for up to 10 days," Bricker said. "Even though humans can't catch the disease, they can transmit it to cloven-hoofed animals."

No animals in the United States have been diagnosed with either FMD or BSE, but, Bricker insists meat producers continue to keep a steady vigilance.

"We are looking all the time for something suspicious," he said.

Thacker concurred.

"We have an agreement with the state diagnostic lab and state veterinarian's office," Thacker said. "If any inspectors find cows with symptoms, they bring the cow to our lab to be sure it doesn't have the disease."

Furthermore, samples of brain matter from cows presenting suspicious symptoms must be submitted to the federal testing lab in Ames, Iowa, Thacker said.

The department of agriculture has a plan in place should either BSE or FMD occur in the United States, Bricker said, "Step by step."

However, Bricker is quick to point out that neither meat producers nor consumers need to worry about the diseases that have nearly destroyed the meat industry in Great Britain.

"Our cultural practices are different here than they are in England," Bricker said. "We can visualize the economic ramifications," Bricker said, "but I think the prevailing attitude now is 'Thanks for bringing this to our attention - we'll be extra guarded.'"


24 May 01 - CJD - Cattle cull sparks Mad Cow disease fears

By Elizabeth Piper

YAHOO--Thursday 24 May 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have warned that some cattle killed to combat the foot-and-mouth epidemic could have had Mad Cow disease and their burial in pits might pose a threat to humans.

The government scientists, members of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said on Wednesday they had told officials they should burn cattle carcasses to reduce the risk of spreading Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

But the Agriculture Ministry said it received the advice late, and older cattle more at risk of having Mad Cow disease might have been buried -- a move that could contaminate the environment and infect humans with the brain-wasting disease.

"It's really those animals that are over five years old. When some of them were killed as part of the foot- and-mouth disease cull, in theory there is a risk that a small proportion of them could be incubating BSE," Chris Bostock, a member of SEAC, told Reuters.

"The decision was taken fairly early on that animals over five years old should be disposed by burning or incineration and for those under five years old there was a small risk of contaminating the environment."

Burial of the carcasses of older cattle could contaminate the water supply, passing on to humans what is believed to cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)-- mutated prion proteins which can cause the brain to become spongy and wither.

More than 80 people in Britain have died of vCJD -- linked to Mad Cow disease in 1996.

ADVICE WAS TOO LATE

Britain has burned or buried more than three million animals since foot-and-mouth first struck in late February, but politicians have been reluctant to build more funeral pyres for the livestock, fearing losses in tourism.

More than 20,000 carcasses had not been disposed of on Tuesday, the Agriculture Ministry said.

A spokesman said as many as 500 cases of foot-and-mouth disease had been confirmed before it received advice from SEAC not to bury animals. He said the ministry did not know how many cattle, and of what age, were buried in pits.

"At the moment we are trying to identify the farms where animals were buried. We need to identify the animals and their age," the spokesman said.

"We will wait until tomorrow to see if it is advisable to bring up the dead animals."

But scientists warn that even after incinerating the animal carcasses the resulting ash could also spread vCJD -- problems the advisory committee SEAC was due to discuss on Thursday.

"There's been a risk assessment done and been discussed by SEAC but I think one is still looking at the least worst scenario. Ideally one would want to make this stuff vanish into thin air but it is just not possible," Harriet Kimbell, another member of SEAC, said.

"Therefore you are looking at the means of disposal in the best possible sites that cause the least possible risk of leaching into water and everything else. But there is potential of infectivity in those animals however you dispose of them."


24 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross in need of blood donors

Rebecca Boller

Times Record News---Thursday 24 May 2001


The ever shrinking supply of blood donors may get smaller now that fears of Mad Cow disease is causing the FDA to tighten its rules concerning those who have lived in Europe.

The current FDA policy prevents any donor who has lived in the United Kingdom for more than six cumulative months between 1980 and 1996 to donate blood.

By Sept. 17, the FDA, which instituted the regulation last year, will expand the rules to any person who from 1980 to the present has lived in the United Kingdom longer than three cumulative months, has lived in Europe for more than six months, or donors who had a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom.

This will make groups such as the American Red Cross work even harder to counteract the anticipated loss in donors, as only 5 percent of the U.S. population donates blood.

"With the more stringent policy, it is going to be very important for people to take the time to come and donate," said Daren Coats of the Wichita Falls American Red Cross.

The policy is a precautionary measure to Mad Cow disease. The disease, also termed Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is a chronic, degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system of cattle and is linked to the human brain-wasting disease Creutzfeld Jakob disease (CJD).

According to the FDA, CJD is an always-fatal disease that has spread from the UK to other European countries. There is enormous scientific uncertainty surrounding the transmission of Mad Cow disease to humans. There is no blood test for the human form of the disease, which has a long latency period.

This policy is estimated to restrict up to 8 percent of current Red Cross blood donors nationally, which amounts to about 400,000 people.

For the local chapter, this news comes at a time when area blood donations are at the beginning of a regular slump. Usually averaging 12 to 15 lifesaving units per day, the center only received between seven or eight units each day during the first week in May.

Currently, the Wichita County blood supply only holds about a three-day supply, Coats said.

Wichita Falls has seen a higher rejection rate of blood donors than in the past due to the donors at Sheppard Air Force Base and retired military residing in the area.

"Wichita Falls has a higher rate of deferral than other cities that don't have a military base," said Avoneole Chitwood, marketing and communications manager for the Dallas Center American Red Cross.

"The original estimate of deferrals due to CJD was 10 to 12 percent. We saw less than 2 percent in Texas, and nationally it wasn't as high as predicted either."

According to Coats, Wichita Falls hasn't see as much support in community drives as in the past. In preparation for the new policy and to reverse the current slump in blood donations, the center will host a Special Memorial Day drive on Friday and Monday.

"There is always a constant change at Sheppard Air Force Base, so it can change for us. We really don't know what affect the new restrictions will have. But what we are doing is encouraging previous donors to come more often and to get the other 95 percent that have never rolled up their sleeve to donate," Chitwood said.


24 May 01 - CJD - Suit filed over dodgy dura mater imports

Staff Reporter

Japan Times.---Thursday 24 May 2001


OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) Relatives of two people who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease filed a damages suit Wednesday against the government and the importer and maker of tainted medical goods allegedly responsible for the fatal disorder.

Lodged with the Otsu District Court, the suit demands about 220 million yen in compensation from the government, Japanese importer Nihon B.S.S., and B. Braun Melsungen AG, a German medical equipment manufacturer.

Among the plaintiffs are two relatives of a man from Yokaichi, Shiga Prefecture, who contracted CJD in 1990 via a tainted dura mater transplant in 1986 and died in 1992 at age 40. Dura mater is the fibrous membrane forming the outermost covering of the brain and spinal cord.

The others are three relatives of a woman from Tsu, Mie Prefecture, who underwent a similar operation in 1985 and died last year at 51 after contracting the disease in 1999.

The plaintiffs claim the government failed to take appropriate measures to stop the importation of tainted dura mater products despite knowing of the danger of contamination.

The suit is the fifth of its kind filed at the court, lawyers for the plaintiffs said. The number of patients in CJD lawsuits is now 22, with 13 represented in suits in Otsu and nine in litigation before the Tokyo District Court.

The four other Otsu suits are expected to conclude in July.

CJD is a rare, fatal brain disorder that causes rapid, progressive dementia and associated neuromuscular disturbances.


24 May 01 - CJD - Update on the situation on the EU-beef market

euc

European Commission--Thursday 24 May 2001


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DN: MEMO/01/194 Date: 2001-05-23

TXT: EN PDF: EN Word Processed: EN

MEMO/01/194

Brussels, 23 May 2001

Outcome of the Agriculture Council, 22 May 2001

Commissioner Fischler's Agenda points

Update on the situation on the EU-beef market (see MEMO/191)

According to Commissioner Fischler, the EU beef market shows some signs of recovery. Compared to the pre-crisis situation, the latest estimates show a drop in beef consumption of 10% (to 18% last month). Also the price reduction has become less severe. Furthermore, some third countries such as Russia reopened their market for EU-beef. " This is also the result of the measures we put into place. During the first four months of this year, about 475.000 tons of beef have been withdrawn from the market, of which about 200.000 tons are now stored in public intervention.

Crisis package for the beef market

Following the opinion of the European Parliament, the Council continued its deliberations on the remaining 5 points of the Commission's " 7-points plan ".

Fischler urged the Council to make the necessary efforts to reach an agreement in June. " We should not forget that a considerable number of animals, mainly cows, is still being held back on farms, that consumption is still down and a significant part of our export markets are still blocked. This means that the intervention stocks are bound to further increase. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine that the consumption will recover to its former level, even in the long term. For all these reasons, there is no question that we have to take action to rebalance the beef market. This is not possible without the package of measures I proposed. It should also be clear that this is a "crisis management package", not a " reform ", he said.

The question was referred back to the Special Committee of Agriculture (SCA).

Reform of the sugar regime

The Council agreed by unanimity to reform the sugar regime along the following lines :

Five year extension of the quota regime until the marketing-year 2005/06

Review of the regime based on Commission studies in the beginning of 2003

Permanent reduction of the level of quotas by 115 000 tonnes

Abolition of the reimbursement of storage costs, while ensuring that sugar for which storage aid has been already paid up to 30 June 2001 is not penalised

Abolition of the exemption from the production levy for the chemical industry

National aids for Southern Italy, for Spain with regard to sugar cane and for the mainland production of Portugal can be maintained at the same level as in the year 2000/2001

Finland is authorised to introduce a national funded storage scheme restricted to the carry over of C-sugar, given its specific climatic conditions. Reform of the sheepmeat sector

Fischler presented the Commission proposal. " The overall objective of the reform is to provide a firm foundation upon which producers could develop their enterprises. Although the existing deficiency payment system appears to be an effective cushion, protecting producers from falls in price, it can have a perverse effect by sheltering producers from the effects of the market. Producers cannot benefit from high prices because this results in a lower premium. ", he said. " The most logical way forward is to replace the variable, deficiency payment premium by a fixed premium of 21 € for the main premium and 7 € for the supplement to farmers in less favoured areas. The amount of 21 € represents an increase compared to the average of premium levels during recent years. " The modification of the sheep and goatmeat regime should be applicable from 1 January 2002.

According to Fischler, a fixed ewe premium would have clear advantages:

It is stable and predictable;

It allows producers to respond to the market;

It avoids the need for burdensome price reporting procedures and complex calculations;

It is more adapted to the objectives of WTO as it would not be price related;

It is not influenced by prices in other Member States;

It is simple to understand and administer;

It achieves budgetary stability. It is also proposed to maintain a lower level of premium for goats and for producers who sell sheep's milk or products made from sheep's milk. The reason for this is straightforward: such producers have an additional source of revenue from the dairy side of the enterprise, which sometimes represents a very significant proportion of their income.

Following a first round of discussion the Council referred the proposal to the SCA for further examination.

Reform of the olive oil regime

The Council had a discussion on the Commission proposal to extend the existing aid scheme for the olive oil sector by two marketing years. The Commission opted for a prolongation of a production-based aid regime because some fundamental pre-conditions for a reform have not yet been met by Member States. Proper control based on reliable figures on the production of olive oil and the number of olive trees must be ensured. This can only be obtained by the Geographic Information System (GIS), showing olive groves declared by producers on aerial photographs. Following a proposal from the Commission in 2002, the Council would decide on the shape of the market organisation from 1 November 2003. Any aid granted under the future scheme would be made conditional on the existence of a GIS. The proposal foresees a strategy to add value to and improve the quality of olive oil production a vital feature in the olive-oil market.

The Council centred its discussion on the issue of the length of the prolongations of the current arrangements and related matters.

Responding to claims from certain producer countries, Fischler pointed out that he did not see any reason to prolong the existing production based regime for more than two years. " It would be odd to have all the necessary informations and control tools at hand in 2003, but not to make use of it ". Speaking about the current market situation, he rejected any storage measures. " The prices are low because production has been increasing more quickly than production. Storage measures would merely postpone the problems, not solve them. "

The matter was referred back to the SCA in order to prepare a decision in June.

Support for the nut sector

Responding to the request of Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal for an extension of the specific aid for the nut sector, Fischler underlined that € 750 million of EU-support had been made available during the last ten years to improve production and marketing. The programmes which expired in 2000 were prolonged for one year triggering EU-expenditure of 24 millions. Further € 250 million are still to be paid out under on-going programmes. He stressed that support was also available for producer organisations under the operational fund scheme and via rural development plans. Fischler acknowledged that while especially the extensive nut producers did improve their cultivation methods and quality, they still have not achieved the necessary efficiency in order to be competitive. " I am aware of social problems. Precisely for that reason it would be wiser to go for alternative programmes within the rural development plans. But the Commission is still in the process of looking into the question how to address this problem. "

The Council took note of the comments made.

State aids wine distillation

Portugal explained that its request is intended to compensate the price difference between the crisis distillation and the voluntary distillation. The Commission made it clear that without the purpose of restructuring the sector this kind of aid cannot be looked upon favourably. However, the Council unanimously agreed to authorise the state-aid.

Commissioner Byrne's Agenda points

Public debate on ethical aspects of animal husbandry

All ministers expressed their support for stronger measures on animal welfare. Mr Byrne explained that the Commission - while having a subsidiary role only in relation to animal welfare - was working actively on improving the situation. Draft legislation on improvement of pig rearing and on upgrading animal transport lorries is already with the Council and the European Parliament. A report of the Scientific Committee on veterinary health expected in October will form the basis for further proposals for animal transport improvements. Mr Byrne underlined however that Member States continue to have the most important role to play in enforcing the existing legislation to protect animals and that unfortunately there was a need for substantial improvement in their performance on implementation.

Mr Byrne´s speech is available on request.

Report on the situation of BSE in Europe

Mr Byrne updated ministers of the latest figures on BSE-testing results and also explained the age profile of BSE-cases.

The principal trends emerging from the tests carried out up to the end of March can be summarised as follows:

75 cases of BSE were found as a result of more than 1, 75 million tests carried out on healthy cattle at slaughter in the EU;

84 cases of BSE were also found as a result of the 150,000 tests carried out on cattle dead-on-farm, subject to casualty slaughter or which were found sick at ante-mortem inspection;

3 cases were found as a result of the examination of the 20,800 cattle examined in the framework of BSE eradication;

Finally, 185 cases of BSE were found as a result of the examination of 1601 clinical suspect animals. Mr Byrne also highlighted that the youngest case of BSE found in over 1.75 million tests on healthy cattle aged over 30 months was in an animal aged 42 months. This is 12 months above the current lower age limit of testing of 30 months. In turn, this suggests that it is not necessary to reduce the current testing age of 30 months for healthy bovines at Community level as favoured by a few Member States. Mr Byrne will however propose to reduce the obligatory testing age of 30 months for a specific target group entering the food chain (at risk or sick animals) to 24 months. This will serve as an early warning system of any potential problem in relation to BSE in younger cattle.

A large majority of Member States supported the Commission's approach and insisted that any measures should only be on harmonised Community-wide basis..

Mr Byrne´s speech is available on request.

Situation of Foot and Mouth disease in Europe

The Commission, the UK and the Netherlands gave an update of the situation concerning FMD. The Council welcomed the positive developments and appreciated the efforts made to eradicate the disease while acknowledging the need of having a proper evaluation on the lessons to learn from the outbreak.

Mr Byrne´s speech is available on request.

Progress report on the food hygiene proposal

The legislative work on the recast of directives regulating hygiene for food is well under way. Mr Byrne informed the Council about the state of play.

Marketing of compound feedingstuffs

On request of the German delegation, the Council discussed the draft proposal to label compound feedingstuffs to ensure that stock farmers are informed about the composition of compound feedingstuffs, imposing a compulsory declaration of detailed quantitative and qualitative information. European Parliament and Council are divided on the question how detailed the information on the label should be.


24 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross bans travelers' blood

By Laura Meckler, Associated Press

San Antonio Express News---Thursday 24 May 2001


WASHINGTON - Guarding against Mad Cow disease, the American Red Cross said Monday that it will stop accepting blood donations from people who have spent as little as three months in Britain or six months anywhere in Europe.

The Red Cross rules, to take effect in September, are much stricter than those contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration and will affect an estimated 400,000 blood donors.

Experts worry that the dueling policies will further confuse the public about the baffling disease. The American Red Cross said Monday that caution is needed given that there is no blood test for the human form of Mad Cow disease, which has a long latency period.

"In light of tremendous scientific uncertainty, we have to make the best judgment possible," Red Cross spokeswoman Blythe Kubina said.

The Red Cross estimates that the new rule will make 8 percent of its current donors ineligible, Kuvina said, adding that the organization was already working to increase its pool of donors.

Last year, the FDA banned blood donations by anyone who spent a total of six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996, when that country was the epicenter of the Mad Cow outbreak.

But with Mad Cow disease spreading throughout Europe, in January the FDA's scientific advisers recommended banning donations from anyone who spent a total of 10 years in Portugal, France and Ireland since 1980. The expert panel, which included some of the nation's top Mad Cow experts, concluded that these countries were of most concern, but it said the risk there was lower than that in Britain.

In February, the FDA indicated that its policy would closely adhere to the recommendations of its advisers, who argued that the Red Cross' call for tighter restrictions went further than necessary.

The FDA's blood chief, Dr. Jay Epstein, said then that the agency was likely to impose the ban only on travelers to France and Portugal.

Under the Red Cross policy announced Monday, donations will be banned from:

Anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for a total of three months or longer since 1980.

Anyone who has lived anywhere in Europe for a total of six months since 1980.

Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom.

The Red Cross, which collects about half of the nation's blood supply, is legally allowed to set stricter standards than required by the FDA.


23 May 01 - CJD - Captive-bolt gun may spread vCJD

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Times--Wednesday 23 May 2001


The use of a common slaughter method could contaminate sheep carcasses with brain material, creating a risk of variant CJD, a team of veterinary scientists from Bristol University says.

In experiments funded by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and reported in Veterinary Record, they discovered that the captive-bolt guns used to slaughter nearly 40 per cent of sheep in Britain could spread brain material to the bloodstream. This means that it could get into meat.

Sheep suffer from their own form of BSE, scrapie, but it cannot be transmitted to people. However, there are fears that sheep may be infected by BSE, which is the cause of vCJD.

Experiments to establish this are going on. If it turns out to be the case, the fact that brain material is spread into the veins by captive-bolt slaughter would make sheep a potential source of infection.

The team studied a variety of captive-bolt guns, which work by driving a retractable bolt into the animal's brain. About 38 per cent of sheep in Britain are slaughtered in this way. In two out of 15 sheep stunned by a conventional captive-bolt gun, brain material was detected in blood draining from the jugular vein. The researchers have not found evidence of brain material in meat and say that more detailed experiments are needed.

When BSE is experimentally induced in sheep, the incubation period is much shorter than it is in cattle. That, the researchers say, means that "infectivity may therefore be present in animals a little over one year of age, when the carcasses are likely to be used for human consumption" .


23 May 01 - CJD - EC plans new Mad Cow measures

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 23 May 2001


The EC has unveiled new proposals to tackle the Mad Cow crisis.

They include lowering the minimum testing age for cattle to 24 months and the introduction of testing for sheep.

Consumer protection and health chief Commissioner David Byrne also proposes to halt the automatic slaughter of entire herds where cases of BSE are uncovered.

Addressing an EU meeting of the 15 farm ministers in Brussels, Byrne said he also wants to extend the current EU ban on the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed.

He also wants stricter controls on imports of animal feed from non-EU countries where "potential weaknesses" currently exist.

Mr Byrne said good veterinary surveillance is the single most important method of detecting BSE


23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Deer Disease?

James A. Swan

National Review---Wednesday 23 May 2001


Some friends recently sent me a Reuters press release out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, proclaiming "Canada Finds First 'Mad Deer' Disease In The Wild." With haunting thoughts of stacks of cattle and sheep burning in England, I checked with Dr. Valerius Geist, emeritus professor of wildlife biology at the University of Calgary. A sigh of relief came, sort of, when I learned that a single wild mule deer with "chronic wasting disease" (C.W.D.) had been found. Animal diseases become human diseases when they impact public health and economics. To appreciate the nature of the incident in Canada, a short review of recent animal diseases in Europe is useful.

C.W.D. is a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (T.S.E.), a type of disease that attacks the brain of an infected animal, and is fatal. It is related to, but not the same thing as, "Mad Cow disease," or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (B.S.E.). Understanding the difference between C.W.D. and B.S.E. is important in these times. Biological diseases can also infect the human mind with fear. That is bad enough, but fear is also the weapon of terrorists.

B.S.E., first discovered in Great Britain in l986, manifests as abnormally small folded proteins called "prions" that form clusters and eat holes in the brain. B.S.E is fatal to cattle, spreads slowly, and is difficult to detect. By the time the Brits realized the extent of the problem, more than half of Britain's dairy herd had B.S.E. The U.K. has killed more than five million head of livestock to prevent its spread.

In addition to B.S.E. killing cattle, U.K. scientists also believe that some people who ate B.S.E.-infected beef may have contracted a new variant of a rare, fatal brain disorder with symptoms like B.S.E. - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is very significant as often there is a "species barrier" in the transmission of T.S.E.s.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (C.J.D.) is found worldwide in approximately one case per million people per year. The symptoms are similar to Alzheimer's and dementia. C.J.D. is almost always fatal according to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Foundation. Its cause is not well understood. It appears to be infectious, but not transmissible like the flu or the plague. Sometimes it appears to be inherited.

Typically C.J.D. appears in men or women of all races between 50-75. It does occur in the U.S. - about 300 cases per year - but there never has been a case linking it to eating meat. B.S.E. has never been found in the U.S., but the chilling image of being poisoned by a steak or a cheeseburger has caught the media's attention, prompting many news stories that stir up emotions, such as the infamous Oprah episode that led to litigation.

The numbers of cases of new variant C.J.D. in the U.K. are not large. According to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, there were 33 definite or probable C.J.D. deaths in the U.K. in 1990. By 1998, the number of deaths was 89. In 2000 there were 75. As of April 2, there have been 18 this year. The number of cases of new variant C.J.D. to date is 56 in Britain, 2 in France, and 1 in Ireland. C.J.D. diagnosis requires an autopsy. The rise in the number of cases could be associated with better reporting and diagnosis as much as any new outbreak.

For perspective: The Center for Disease Control reports that every year in the U.S. 76 million people contract food poisoning, and foodborne illnesses lead to 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.

Numbers of new variant C.J.D. in the U.K. are starting to decrease, but the incubation time can be a decade or more, so the number of those now infected is uncertain. Estimates range from hundreds to thousands. There are many stories here, but let's return to wildlife because this is an "Outdoors" column.

Chronic Wasting Disease, which is found in deer and elk, is somewhat similar to "scrapie," a T.S.E. found in sheep and goats and first discovered in the l700s. C.W.D. is thought to be spread through contact of bodily fluids and tissues, like AIDS, but according to Dr. Dave Samuel, former chair of wildlife biology at the University of West Virginia, "the method of transmission is unknown." Normal cooking won't kill a T.S.E. One theory of the origin of B.S.E. in Britain is that it came from cattle feed contaminated with offal of scrapie-infected sheep. There never has been a documented case of a human becoming infected with a T.S.E. originating from scrapie. Dr. Samuel points out that C.W.D. seems to have originated in game farms, so it is possible that scrapie-infected feed is the original cause, but this is still under study.

C.W.D. was first identified in l967 at the Foothills Wildlife Research Center in Ft. Collins, Colo. It has been subsequently identified in game farms in several states and in Canada. But, and this is a big but, until its recent discovery in that wild mule deer in Saskatchewan, C.W.D. was only known to exist in the wild in a herd of about 62,000 deer and elk that live between Fort Collins, Colo., and Cheyenne, Wyo. Between 4 and 8 percent of that herd have it for certain, but some biologists believe that the actual proportion infected may be as high as 15 percent. Like other T.S.E.s, the disease lies dormant for a long time (2-7 years) and cannot be confirmed without performing an autopsy.

Everyone's fear is that C.W.D. could be transferred to humans like B.S.E., but the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and an Advisory Panel to USFDA agree that there is no evidence to support the idea that C.W.D. can be transferred to humans, nor that it can be transferred to cattle or sheep. Also, as Dr. Geist points out, hunters do not normally eat brains, blood, and lymph glands, all of which are commonly eaten in the U.K. and Europe.

If you'd like to find out more about more about C.W.D., check out the website for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF is one of the major reasons why there are ten times as many elk today (about 1.5 million) as there were a hundred years ago.

Saskatchewan, incidentally, has already implemented a program of reducing herds of elk and deer by hunting in the area where that one case of C.W.D. was reported. Hunters are encouraged to turn in game heads for analysis. And they have killed off 3000 elk on game farms. As yet there is no vaccine for C.W.D.

Sadly, some animal-rights activists have openly cheered the recent outbreaks of animal disease, saying, basically, "It serves the meat eaters right." This only serves to heighten existing tensions, and to expose the dark underbelly of the animal-rights movement.

On April 18, Sen. Larry Craig (R., Idaho) and Rep. Michael Simpson (R., Idaho) issued a statement of concern that animal-rights activists might actually try to bring animal diseases to the U.S. Their statement was prompted by a comment to reporters by Ingrid Newkirk, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Newkirk said, "I openly hope that it [hoof and mouth disease] comes here. It will bring economic harm only for those who profit from giving people heart attacks and giving animals a concentration camp-like existence."

In addition to B.S.E., the U.K. has also experienced a recent outbreak of hoof and mouth (H.M.D.), which is a viral infection that causes lesions, blisters, fevers, weight loss, and reduced milk production in animals. Infected animals become more susceptible to other illnesses and the overall vitality of the herd declines, but H.M.D. is not fatal to most adult animals. Nor is it harmful to humans.

In contrast to B.S.E. or C.W.D., H.M.D. is extremely contagious and can be spread in the wind. It would not be difficult to bring such a biological agent into the U.S. and disseminate it. And there have been reports of a missing vial of H.M.D. culture from a British laboratory. Sen. Craig and Rep. Simpson deserve credit for speaking out. Animal diseases could be spread by eco-terrorists. The damage unleashed would be psychological, as well as economic and biological. Panic is a disease. H.M.D. control illustrates this point.

H.M.D. is common in areas of Africa and South America. In these countries, in which economies are weak and food is scarce, vaccination is the most common strategy to combat the disease. The U.K. and other European countries have taken the hard-line approach, killing 2.6 million head of livestock and burning the carcasses. Some wonder if the European strategy of slaughtering all livestock, healthy or no, within a mile or two of any sign of H.M.D., is wise or necessary. This is extremely important to consider as USDA officials formulate policy about responding to hoof and mouth on U.S. soil, regardless of its origins, because here we have the additional issue of wildlife populations.

In Europe, wildlife populations are not that large, thus not at huge risk to spread the disease. Nonetheless, in the U.K., hunting has been sharply cut back or banned for the present. In North America, where deer, elk, and antelope are plentiful, wild game could spread H.M.D., as well as C.W.D. Choosing the European control strategy could subject wild herds to massive slaughter. But would it be necessary or even effective? Many wildlife biologists believe that we should be examining other strategies to control and eradicate animal diseases without resorting to massive slaughter, which could have massive implications for economics and ecology, and possibly be relatively ineffective for disease control in free-ranging animals in the long run. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


23 May 01 - CJD - New test for deer disease

Dick Foster

Rocky Mountain News---Wednesday 23 May 2001


State to sample animals' tonsils

State wildlife officials will experiment on 200 Colorado deer to find a way to detect the fatal chronic wasting disease in living animals.

Wildlife researchers plan to tranquilize animals around Estes Park and Livermore and take tissue samples from tonsils. The effort will go until late August in hope of discovering a test for detecting the disease.

"To date, the only tests we've had to detect chronic wasting disease involve postmortem animals," said Mike Miller, state wildlife veterinarian for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The brain-wasting disease in deer and elk is in the same family as Mad Cow disease, which has killed 90 people who ate infected beef in England and Continental Europe.

No evidence shows that chronic wasting disease in deer and elk can spread to humans, but scientists caution deer and elk hunters not to kill or eat animals that appear to be sick.

In Colorado, chronic wasting disease is confined to the northeastern section of the state from west of Estes Park to the Nebraska border. From 1 to 15 percent of the deer are infected.

Chronic wasting disease, like Mad Cow disease, is caused by a mutant protein called a prion that destroys healthy brain tissue, perforating it with holes. The disease's focus in the brain left researchers unable to confirm the illness without killing the animal and examining the brain tissue.

But scientists now believe the prions may also accumulate in tonsils, which allows them to tranquilize animals and take samples, Miller said.

State wildlife officials hope the experiment will enable them to detect diseased deer and elk in earlier stages of the illness, rather than waiting until the animals die.

The testing also could help them determine how the disease spreads and where it is found, Miller said.

Wildlife officials suspect crowding of herds may play a part in spreading the disease.


23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross Tightens Restrictions on Blood Donors

Kyra Phillips

CNN--Wednesday 23 May 2001


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: If you've been considering making a blood donation to the American Red Cross, you might want to listen up. Under new, tighter restrictions, the Red Cross may not want your blood donation if you spent time in Europe over the past 20 years.

Right now, anyone who spent six months or more in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 is blocked from giving blood, and starting in September, that restriction will be tightened to three months or more. Travelers who spent time in other parts of Europe are not currently restricted from giving blood, but in September, anyone who spent six months or more there will be barred.

For more on these restrictions and the reasons for them, we've joined in Cleveland by Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross.

Dr. Healy, hello.

DR. BERNADINE HEALY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Hi, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: How many people are we talking about here that will be excluded?

HEALY: Well, it could be as many as several thousand, maybe 400,000 people, but I want to stress that although some donors are going to be excluded, we are in an active campaign to make that up with other donors. Only about 5 percent of people in this country who can give blood do give blood.

PHILLIPS: And I do want to talk about that active campaign in a moment, but for those who will not be able to give blood, how will you know, because usually have to go in and fill out the questionnaire? Sometimes it's hard to remember what you've done over the past 20 years.

HEALY: Well, I think most people generally know where they have traveled and when they have traveled. So, I think that we'll try to help them, we'll prompt them, we'll ask them the questions. But I think so far, we have done a lot of geographic exclusions in malaria areas, Great Britain over the past year and a half, so we're confident that we can handle that.

PHILLIPS: Dr. Healy, we did get a statement from Dr. Paul Brown, the past chairman from the FDA, and this is his quote: "I think it's excessive. I'm told the degree of donor exclusion would cripple some smaller regional blood suppliers."

Now, when you don't know if Mad Cow disease is transmitted through the blood, then why be so restrictive right now? Do you think it's a little overreactive?

HEALY: We don't think so. I think it's a prudent thing to do and I think it's a precautionary thing to do, but I completely agree with Paul Brown that we don't have certainty in terms of science, but that's the very reason that we have to do something now and as we go and get the science.

But there are enough facts however, Kyra and we can't ignore them. Number one, we do know that this disease, the human form of Mad Cow disease, is in the body long before the person knows that they are infected, and guess where it hides? It hides in the lymph tissue, it hides in the appendix, in the gut, in the spleen and in white cells and in the blood at low levels.

Whether it's enough to be infective, we don't know, but we know that in animals, it can be transmitted in experimental studies, and we also that we don't have a blood test for it. So, we believe that there is enough evidence that makes us pause, and we believe until that scientific certainty is there, we must take action now, and Kyra, we don't have a blood test. So when someone comes who is perfectly well, we don't have a way of knowing whether or not they are harboring this disease.

PHILLIPS: Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross, thanks so much. Be checking those passports before you give blood. Thank you.

HEALY: Thank you.


23 May 01 - CJD - British blood donors rejected over Mad Cow disease

By Lisa Richwine

YAHOO--Wednesday 23 May 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Red Cross has said it will tighten restrictions on blood donations from people who have spent time in Europe particularly Britain as a precaution against the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The Red Cross, which collects about half of the U.S. blood supply, said beginning in September it will stop taking blood from people who have spent three months or more in Britain and six months or more in Europe from 1980 to the present.

Also, the Red Cross will reject any potential donor who has received a blood transfusion in Britain. The new policies are scheduled to take effect in mid-September.

Experts believe the deadly disease is transmitted to people who eat tainted meat, but they do not know if infected humans can pass the disease to others through blood transfusions. The brain-wasting illness has killed more than 90 people in Europe, most of them in Britain.

"We felt it was a prudent judgment in the face of great scientific uncertainty," Red Cross President Bernadine Healy said of the new restrictions.

The Red Cross limits are tighter than current federal requirements. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits blood banks from collecting donations from anyone who has spent six months or more in Britain from 1980 to 1996.

The FDA is considering whether to add other European countries to the list. An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting next month. In January, the panel recommended expanding the ban to include people who spent 10 years or more since 1980 in France, Ireland or Portugal.

BLOOD SUPPLY STRETCHED THIN

Blood banks are concerned about how many donors they will lose if new restrictions are added when the blood supply is stretched thin at times.

Melissa McMillan, a spokeswoman for America's Blood Centres, which also collects about half of the U.S. blood supply, said research shows blood collection could fall 1 million units short this year even without tighter limits.

Given that projection, and the prospect that the FDA might widen the current Mad Cow ban, the organisation is planning new initiatives to boost blood donation, she said.

Healy said the Red Cross estimated its changes to Mad Cow policies would restrict giving from 8 percent of current donors. But she said she was "cautiously optimistic" that new campaigns could make up for any shortfall.

The effective date was set for September to allow time for changes to donor questionnaires and employee training, Healy said. She also noted that tests to detect the disease in blood could be available in a few years, which may allow the Red Cross to relax its restrictions.

Mad-cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, spread through British herds in the 1980s and recently appeared in other European countries. The human version is known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross takes step against Mad Cow

Associated Press

Dominion Post--Wednesday 23 May 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Guarding against Mad Cow disease, the American Red Cross said Monday that it will stop accepting blood donations from people who have spent as little as three months in Britain or six months anywhere in Europe.

The Red Cross rules, to take effect in September, are much stricter than those contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration and will affect an estimated 400,000 blood donors.

Experts worry that the dueling policies will further confuse the public about the baffling disease. The American Red Cross said Monday that caution is needed given that there is no blood test for the human form of Mad Cow disease, which has a long latenc y period.


23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Means Tighter Blood Donor Rules

Staff Reporter

KYW News Radio--Wednesday 23 May 2001


The American Red Cross says it is rejecting blood from donors who have spent six months in Europe or three months in Britain since 1980.

Fearful that Mad Cow Disease could work its way into the blood supply, the Red Cross is going beyond government regulations, barring donations from anyone who made an extended visit to Europe during the past two decades.

But the protections do not come without a price. The latest tightening of the rules will eliminate an estimated eight percent of Red Cross blood donors, about 400,000 donations per year. The new regulations go well beyond current rules and beyond what a panel of scientific advisers recommended earlier this year to the Food and Drug Administration.

One potential donor, Michael Brown, a political scientist who lived in England for six years and returned to the U.S. eight years ago, says he typically gives blood about once a year and never considered that Mad Cow Disease might be lurking in his veins.

"My friends have often wondered," he joked, but quickly added, "It's not something you should joke about. It's just a horrific disease. My feeling is obviously the folks who regulate the blood supply should do whatever is necessary to protect it."

The FDA first acted on this issue last year, banning blood donations by anyone -- including Brown -- who has spent a total of six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996.

In January, with Mad Cow Disease spreading throughout Europe, the FDA's scientific advisers recommended prohibiting blood donations from anyone who had spent a total of 10 years in Portugal, France or Ireland since 1980.

The Red Cross said it is taking a conservative line because of the uncertainty surrounding the transition of Mad Cow Disease to humans. There is no way to test blood for the human form of the disease, which has a long latency period.


23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow spooks Red Cross

Amy Patterson-Neubert

Journal & Courier Online---Wednesday 23 May 2001


Blood donation guidelines will be tighter in September

Fear of Mad Cow disease has prompted the American Red Cross to extend its ban on certain blood donations, potentially affecting an estimated 400,000 donors nationwide.

Beginning in September, the American Red Cross will stop accepting donations from individuals who have spent three months in Britain or six months anywhere else in Europe since 1980. Anyone who received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980 will also be deferred from donating.

The new rules go well beyond current guidelines -- which affect only those who have been to Britain for at least six months -- as well as the recommendations a scientific advisory panel made to the Food and Drug Administration early this year.

"My characterization of the Red Cross's decision is they are erring on the side of extreme caution," said Simon Kenyon, extension veterinarian at Purdue University. Kenyon is affected by the rules and cannot donate blood because he visited his hometown, Dorset, England, in the 1980s.

Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), debilitates the nervous system of ruminants -- animals that chew their cud and have a multichambered stomach -- including cows. The disease spreads from the protein feed given to the animals. Kenyon said there is no evidence that Mad Cow disease, nor its human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is transmitted by blood. In 1986, Britain's first case of Mad Cow disease in livestock was identified. No cases have been confirmed in livestock in America.

BSE-infected meat can cause a fatal illness in humans, a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. One hundred people have died from this human-variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Europe, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is believed that Mad Cow disease is spread to people through infected beef.

Kenyon said some of the confusion stems from the classical Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

"Classical CJD has been transmitted from human to another through corneal transplants," Kenyon said.

"We don't know if this is a relatively small problem that's going to disappear or whether this could grow to be something much bigger," Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross, said Monday.

Healy said the Red Cross is now implementing a campaign to freeze blood when it's in abundant supply.

The Indiana Blood Center, serving Lafayette, is part of the America Blood Centers network, not the American Red Cross. The America Blood Centers network defers people who have spent a total of six months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996. The time does not have to be consecutive. This is the regulation required by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

America Blood Centers and the American Red Cross are entirely separate entities.

Elise Brown, director of corporate communications for the Indiana Blood Center, said if the Red Cross's rules are implemented by the FDA, 12,000 Hoosier blood donors could expect to be turned away from Indiana Blood Centers because of the new ban.

"That could be extremely difficult to make up. It could really have an impact," Brown said. "They have to weigh that against the risk of having no blood.

"We're just kind of waiting. Our plan is to follow the FDA. I'm sure they are going to do what they think is in the best interest for the people."

Monday, the Indiana Blood Center had a zero surplus of blood to distribute to the state's 45 hospitals. The blood centers ideally hope to have at least 100 units on hand.

In the past, many Indiana companies invited the center to collect blood three times a year. "Companies are downsizing. We've been losing a lot of corporation donations," Brown said. "Some companies have stopped having blood drives all together."


23 May 01 - CJD - Aiming at Mad Cow, Red Cross bars some blood donors

By Laura Meckler, Associated Press

Philly.com---Wednesday 23 May 2001


WASHINGTON - Guarding against Mad Cow disease, the American Red Cross said yesterday that it would stop accepting blood donations from people who have spent as little as three months in Britain or six months anywhere in Europe.

The Red Cross rules, to take effect in September, are much stricter than those contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration and will affect an estimated 400,000 blood donors.

Experts worry that the dueling policies will further confuse the public about the baffling disease. The American Red Cross said caution was needed given that no blood test existed for the human form of Mad Cow, which has a long latency period.

"In light of tremendous scientific uncertainty, we have to make the best judgment possible," said Red Cross spokeswoman Blythe Kubina.

The Red Cross estimates the rule will make 8 percent of current donors ineligible, she said, adding that the agency was working to enlarge its pool of donors.

Last year, the FDA banned blood donations by anyone who spent a total of six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996, when that country was the epicenter of the Mad Cow outbreak.

But with Mad Cow spreading through Europe, scientific advisers recommended in January that the FDA ban donations from anyone who spent a total of 10 years in Portugal, France and Ireland since 1980. The panel concluded that these countries were of most concern, but with less risk than in Britain.

In February, the FDA indicated that its policy would closely adhere to the recommendations of its advisers, who argued that the Red Cross' call for tighter restrictions went further than necessary. The FDA's blood chief, Dr. Jay Epstein, said then that the agency was likely to impose the ban only on travelers to Portugal and France.

The new Red Cross policy will ban donations from:

- Anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for a total of three months or longer since 1980.

- Anyone who has lived anywhere in Europe for a total of six months since 1980.

- Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom.

The Red Cross, which collects about half the U.S. blood supply, is legally allowed to set stricter standards than the FDA requires. But its blood banks may not say or imply that their blood is safer than that collected by banks following FDA standards.

Defending the Red Cross' plans earlier this year, Dr. Bernadine Healy, the group's president, called the FDA standards "minimal." If the nation won't import any European cattle, she said, her blood banks should adopt a similar standard.

Mad Cow disease seems to spread to people through eating infected beef. There is no proof yet that it or its human counterpart spreads through blood.


23 May 01 - CJD - Blood stocks hit by exotic holidays

Staff Reporter

BBC--Wednesday 23 May 2001


10,000 units of blood a day are needed in England and north Wales

Tourists heading off to exotic destinations are being urged to give blood before they go to maintain blood stocks.

Strict rules to prevent donated blood being contaminated with disease mean that travellers returning from various tropical countries are banned from giving blood for a year.

Blood service bosses concede that the increasing popularity of long-haul destinations in Asia and Africa are causing a problem.

This is coupled with the normal, seasonal drop in donations because people who would normally give blood are away from home.

Liz Reynolds, director of public and customer services at the National Blood Service, said: "It is vital that we tell people that giving blood should be on their 'to do' list alongside buying sun tan lotion and getting a passport.

"The demand for blood never stops - every day, across England and north Wales, we need to collect 10,000 donations of blood to make sure that all the patients in hospitals get the life-saving treatments they require."

An independent survey, carried out by travel agent Thomas Cook revealed that as few as 1% of holidaymakers consider giving blood before going on holiday.

More than half of those surveyed said that, having been made aware of the importance, they would now do it.

While donated blood is treated to remove the cells that could potentially harbour HIV infection, there are several other common tropical infections, such as malaria, which could potentially be passed on through infected blood.

Dangerous infection

The year's delay before a donor can give again provides ample opportunity for any dangerous infection to show itself.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, Thomas Cook's managing director, said: "With so many people travelling, and with so many more people visiting exotic locations such as Africa and the far east, it is important to remind holidaymakers to think about giving blood before their summer break."

The National Donor Helpline has details of the locations and times of various blood donor sessions around the country. Its number is 0845 7711711.

Donors should be aged between 17 and 60, in general good health and weigh more than 50kgs.


23 May 01 - CJD - US fears Mad Cow spread

Staff Reporter

BBC--Wednesday 23 May 2001


The American Red Cross says it is tightening its restrictions on blood donations by people who have spent time in Europe, as a precaution against the human form of BSE, or Mad Cow disease.

The organisation says it will widen the current ban to include individuals who have spent three months or more in Europe, where most cases of BSE - and its human equivalent CJD - have so far been reported.

Correspondents say the new rules imposed by the Red Cross, which collects about half of all the blood donated in the United States, will reduce even further the already short supply in blood banks.

There is no consensus among experts on whether the disease could be transmitted through blood transfusions.


23 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Prompt More Red Cross Restrictions

Lisa Richwine

YAHOO--Wednesday 23 May 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Red Cross said on Monday it will tighten restrictions, beginning in September, on blood donations from people who have spent time in Europe. Concerns about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, have prompted the new rules, according to the organization.

The Red Cross, which collects about half of the US blood supply, will stop taking blood from people who have spent 3 months or more in Britain, and 6 months or more in Europe from 1980 to the present, said spokeswoman Blythe Kubina.

Also, the Red Cross will reject any potential donor who has received a blood transfusion in Britain, she said. The new policies are scheduled to take effect in mid-September.

Experts do not know if BSE can be spread through blood, but the disease's human equivalent, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), has killed more than 90 people in Europe, most of them in Britain. Variant CJD is believed to have arisen through people's consumption of meat contaminated with BSE. BSE spread through British herds in the 1980s and has recently appeared in other European countries.

``Because there is such scientific uncertainty, we want to act prudently and cautiously to ensure the safety of the blood supply,'' Kubina said, adding that transmission of the disease through blood is a ``theoretical risk.''

The Red Cross' limits are tighter than current federal requirements. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits blood banks from collecting donations from anyone who has spent 6 months or more in Britain from 1980 to 1996.

The FDA is considering whether to add other European countries to the list. An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet next month to discuss the issue. In January, the panel recommended banning blood donations from people who spent 10 years or more since 1980 in France, Ireland or Portugal.

Blood banks are concerned about how many donors they will lose if new restrictions are added at a time when the blood supply is stretched thin. The Red Cross estimates it will lose about 8% of current blood donors with the new limits, but plans a campaign to encourage people to donate more often, Kubina said.


23 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross to reject donors who have been in Europe

Staff Reporter

USA Today--Wednesday 23 May 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - Guarding against Mad Cow disease, the American Red Cross said Monday that it will stop accepting blood donations from people who have spent as little as three months in Britain or six months anywhere in Europe.

The Red Cross rules, which will take effect in September, are much stricter than those contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts worry that the dueling policies will further confuse the public about the baffling disease. The American Red Cross said Monday that caution is needed given that there is no blood test for the human form of Mad Cow disease, which has a long latency period.

"In light of tremendous scientific uncertainty, we have to make the best judgment possible," said Red Cross spokeswoman Blythe Kuvina.

The Red Cross estimates that the new rule will make 8% of its current donors ineligible, Kuvina said, adding that the organization was already working to increase its pool of donors.

Last year, the FDA banned blood donations by anyone who spent a total of six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996, when that country was the epicenter of the Mad Cow outbreak.

But with Mad Cow disease spreading throughout Europe, in January the FDA's scientific advisers recommended banning donations from anyone who spent a total of 10 years in Portugal, France and Ireland since 1980. The expert panel, which included some of the nation's top Mad Cow experts, concluded that these countries were of most concern, but said the risk there was lower than that in Britain.

In February, the FDA indicated that its policy would closely adhere to the recommendations of its advisers, who argued that the Red Cross' call for tighter restrictions went farther than necessary. The FDA's blood chief, Dr. Jay Epstein, said then that the agency was likely to impose the ban only on travelers to Portugal and France.

Under the Red Cross policy announced Monday, donations will be banned from:

- Anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for a total of three months or longer since 1980.

- Anyone who has lived anywhere in Europe for a total of six months since 1980.

- Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom.

The Red Cross, which collects about half of the nation's blood supply, is legally allowed to set stricter standards than required by the FDA. But its blood banks may not say or imply that their blood is safer than those collected by banks following the FDA standards.

Defending the Red Cross' plans earlier this year, Dr. Bernadine Healy, the group's president, called the FDA standards "minimal." If the nation won't import any European cattle, she said, her blood banks should adopt a similar standard.

Healy said she was not implying that the Red Cross standard was better than the FDA's.

"They're making a judgment. We're making a judgment," she said.

Mad Cow disease seems to spread to people through eating infected beef. There is no proof yet that it or its human counterpart spreads through blood. But how to protect the blood supply in case the disease eventually hits the United States and proves a real threat is controversial.

Competing blood banks fear patients will perceive the Red Cross policy as safer and thus they will have to follow suit, risking shortages by turning away longtime donors like military families.